I Don't Find My Husband Sexually Attractive. Is My Marriage Over?
Many people consider a fulfilling sex life to be an essential part of a marriage. Evidence suggests that sexual satisfaction is strongly correlated with marital satisfaction, and a lack of physical attraction may indicate unresolved problems in the marriage. However, this is not necessarily the case. Attraction can come and go based on various factors beyond physical appearance.
In fact, research has revealed that physical attraction and sexual intimacy rarely top the list of things most people find important in a partner. However, many couples agree that sexual attraction and intimacy are necessary components of a marriage. Even if you're struggling to find your husband attractive, there are several steps you can take to try to bring the spark back into your marriage.
Why Partners Lose Attraction
If your attraction to your husband has waned throughout your marriage, you're not alone. Many couples report a steady decline in the sexual attraction they feel for their partner as time goes on. However, sexual attraction is not the only thing bonding partners together; other forms of attraction can also boost physical desire.
There are often barriers to intimacy that can impact how attracted partners are to one another. If you're struggling to remain attracted to your husband, one of the following barriers may be to blame:
Emotional Security And Quality Time
The quality of the non-sexual time you and your husband spend together forms a foundation for physical attraction. Partners who invest in each other's time and emotional security tend to have stronger sex lives and higher satisfaction in their marriages overall.
If you struggle to relate to your husband outside the bedroom, you'll unlikely feel better regarding physical intimacy. Regardless of physical appearance, if your husband is not considering your emotional needs in the marriage, it won't be easy to find him attractive. Relationships need quality time based on empathy, understanding, shared values, and mutual respect.
Lack Of Positive Interactions
If your husband is critical of your appearance or interests, it's likely that will significantly impact the attraction you feel for your partner. Sometimes interactions are inherently negative and beyond a partner's control, but sustained actions that are emotionally dismissive will reduce marriage quality in every area.
John Gottman, a psychologist and relationship expert, identified a ratio of positive interactions to negative interactions that can be used to predict success in a marriage with 90 percent accuracy. In Dr. Gottman's research, he discovered that it takes five positive interactions to "undo" one negative one. Most marriages will have problems with intimacy, togetherness, and attraction unless most interactions are overwhelmingly positive.
Lack Of Non-Sexual Intimacy
Positive interactions are vital in a healthy marriage, but so is a sense of closeness and intimacy unrelated to sex. While sexual intimacy is important, other forms of intimacy matter equally.
- Mental Intimacy. Mental intimacy involves learning new things together. Consider signing yourself and your husband up for a cooking class or reading a new book together.
- Emotional Intimacy. Emotional intimacy is a sense of closeness that comes from trust and openness. This form of intimacy includes allowing your partner to have an open, non-judgmental forum to communicate their thoughts and feelings.
- Experiential Intimacy. Experiential intimacy is strengthened when partners work together. Things like starting a new job or working on home improvement projects together are likely to boost experiential intimacy.
Without non-sexual intimacy, you and your husband lack the foundational bonds necessary for physical attraction and healthy sex life. New activities and shared experiences can increase attraction considerably.
Kind, empathetic communication is necessary for a healthy relationship. The value is the same when considering a healthy sex life; communication before, during, and after sex all affect the quality of sex between partners. A lack of communication will prevent partners from fully understanding each other's needs and desires. This is harmful in all areas of marriage, and sex is no exception. If your husband isn't communicating with you or respecting your communication with him, it will be challenging to feel safe, secure, and comfortable with sexual intimacy.
Bringing The Issue To Your Partner
If you're committed to restoring the spark you once felt for your husband, you must address your feelings with him. Addressing your feelings with your husband must be kind, empathetic, and non-confrontational. Throwing insults or dumping your frustration will not likely get you the desired results.
Frame your concerns as non-judgmentally as possible and begin the conversation by restating your love and commitment to your husband. It may be helpful to reframe your concern as something gentle. For example, if you're no longer attracted to your husband because he gained weight, you might say that you are concerned about his health overall, not just his appearance.
The most important thing to do is to be gentle in your communication. Fighting, insults, and unkind behaviors will not help him, or you rebuild the attraction you once felt. If you feel that you cannot communicate openly and honestly with your husband, that issue needs to be addressed before you can find him attractive. If there are serious concerns with intimacy, communication, or empathy, you should consider seeking the help of a therapist to assist you and your husband.
Marriage Behaviors That Increase Attraction
Marriage takes work, and maintaining a healthy sex life is no exception. Much of the work to maintain sexual intimacy and attraction occurs outside the bedroom by improving communication and non-sexual intimacy. However, sex and physical attraction still matter. Here are some common behaviors that partners use to keep the spark alive:
For many partners, especially those struggling to be attracted to their spouse, the main challenge is one of sexual desire – getting in the mood. Maintenance sex is sex that is scheduled and planned; it does not take place spontaneously. Partners commit to sexual intercourse regardless of whether they feel an explicit desire for sex beforehand.
You shouldn't force it completely; you should skip maintenance sex if one partner is ill, for example. Sexual intimacy should be a priority, though. Both you and your husband should be ready and willing as long as there are no other barriers other than a lack of sexual desire.
Communication is an essential skill in marriage, especially regarding physical attraction. Not only do you need to be able to communicate your feelings to your husband, but healthy communication increases intimacy and leads to both partners perceiving the other as more attractive.
John Gottman recommends three must-dos for improving communication in a relationship:
- Tell each other what you want rather than what you don't want. Focus on presenting your needs rather than criticizing your partner's shortcomings. Use "I" statements (I feel…, I think…, etc.) to avoid putting your partner on the spot.
- Respond to each other's statements of need with open-ended questions. Open-ended questions typically begin with words like "what," "why," or "how." Open-ended questions are framed to avoid a "yes" or "no" answer. The person responding is allowed to expand, explain, and clarify their position.
- Express gratitude for being heard. If your husband is listening, thank him for it. The reverse should also be true. Partners who show appreciation when their partner listens attentively increase the likelihood they will continue to do so.
Shore Up Respect
Mutual respect between partners is essential. If respect is absent, the relationship should not continue, but partners often respect one another but put little effort into demonstrating it. You and your husband should consider introducing more actions of respect to help increase attraction. Common respectful behaviors include supporting each other's goals, acknowledging the other person's unique traits, and giving each other space when needed.
If your husband puts more effort into going above and beyond to demonstrate respect, he will likely appear more attractive as the relationship improves. However, remember to communicate your desire for more respectful behavior in a kind, empathetic way. You are asking for extra, not the bare minimum. If you do not feel respected in your relationship, that problem must be addressed before focusing on physical attraction.
How Can Online Therapy Help?
Online therapy is a convenient, accessible option for addressing concerns related to physical attraction. Couples counseling is ideal for bringing your concerns to your husband's attention in a healthy, productive way. Addressing feelings of lacking attraction in couples counseling and any other issues that may be of concern in your marriage is an effective method for solving problems without conflict. You can also pursue individual therapy to manage individual concerns. Visiting a therapist online removes many barriers to therapy, such as traveling to a physical office. Your sessions are conducted from the comfort of your home using the same tools as in-office therapists, which are just as effective online.
Losing attraction for your husband can drastically increase stress in a marriage. However, it does not mean you don't love your husband or that the marriage has failed. Attraction can wax and wane, but improving relationship quality will likely restore it. Focusing on communication, non-sexual intimacy, and respect can lead to massive improvements in relationship satisfaction. As relationship satisfaction increases, the physical attraction between both partners is also likely to increase.
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Debra Jenkins - MSW, LCSW-C
Why am I losing interest in him?
It’s not uncommon to feel a lack of appeal or to feel a decline in love after a while in a long-term relationship. This is because the appeal of a sexual relationship often involves excitement, and the most exciting things for us are usually the new or novel things. You might be thinking, “I'm in love with him (my spouse or my partner), but I’ve been married for a long time and I'm missing the thrill of a new relationship.” Even if you found your partner very appealing while you were dating and at the beginning of the marriage, it’s likely that the daily family life and routine have worn down your love for your partner. This decline in physical love is a common result to the routine of family life and spending a long time in the relationship.
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